Knowledge of Silkworm

Also called domesticated silkworm, the mulberry silkworm is one of the economic insect which feeds on mulberry leaves, which belongs to Bombycidae. It arises and was domesticated from the original on which inhabited in mulberry trees in ancient China. Today, it is widely distributed in temperate zone, subtropical zone and torrid zone.

It is an insect of complete metamorphosis. Its life experiences four totally different stages: egg, larva, pupa and moth. It takes 20 to 28 days for a newly hatched larva grows into a matured one that begins to spin and cocoon. Spinning and cocooning cost about three days, and after one or two days it becomes a pupa. The pupal stage lasts for ten to fifteen days when a pupa turns into a moth. It dies after oviposition. Thus it takes about 40 to 60 days to accomplish a generation.

History of Chinese Sericulture

China is the first country in the world to raise silkworms and make silks. According to the Chinese legend, the technology of raising silkworms was invented and introduced by Leizu, the wife of Huangdi, which indicates the long history of Chinese sericulture.

silkworm cocoon
Silkworm cocoon
In 1926, a half cocoon was discovered in the ruins of Yangshao Culture in Xiyin Village in Xia County in Shanxi Province. This dark brown cocoon is proved to be the oldest cocoon by far discovered in China. In the tombs of the slave owners in Yin Dynasty (over 4,000 years ago) in today's Yidu in Shandong, the archaeologists have discovered many jade decorations, including vivid jade silkworms, which suggest that silkworms were important in people's work and daily life in that remote time. Besides, some broken silk pieces found adhering to the bronze ware are another proof of raising silkworms to make silk product in colorful geometric designs in Yin Dynasty.

Folk-Custom of Silkworm

In the ancient times when the productive force was weak, people would like placing the hope for good harvest in the God's protect, which is no exception when they raised silkworms. For every dynasty in China, the rulers paid adequate attention to the worship of the Silkworm God and Silkworm Altar was set up in the royal palace. Before raising silkworm, the cattle would be killed in sacrifice to the Silkworm God – Leizu. In folklore, people built different styles of temples or palaces, or stood a statue of the Silkworm God beside the main Buddha they worshipped. Moreover, a serious of sacrifices would be held in certain period of time, such as the ceremonious "Ga Can Hua" held in Zhejiang in Qingming Festival.

Raising silkworm is a laborious work. During the long time of production practice, the farmers have developed unique production customs, even many of which smacks of superstition seen from today. For example, in order to protect the silkworms from insects and diseases, they would clean the rearing rooms, stick paper-cut with tiger or cat patterns on the doors to frighten away rats, and paste red papers with "Yu Can" (Raising Silkworms) or "Can Shi Mian Jin" (No Admittance to Rearing Rooms) to refuse the visits among each other. What’s more, they would bathe the eggs to sanitize them in a special day. They warmed the rearing rooms by charcoal basin when feed the baby silkworms.
Silk making process
Silk making process
Steaming silkwoom cocoon
Steaming cocoon
Drawing silk from cocoons
Drawing silk from cocoons
Weaving silk products
- Last updated on Aug. 08, 2022 -
Questions & Answers on Knowledge of Silkworm
Asked by Lyn from AUSTRALIA | Mar. 27, 2014 00:35Reply
What is AAA Grade Silk?
Answers (1)
Answered by Tina from USA | Apr. 01, 2014 04:10

The high-end silk quality is divided into 6A, 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, A, B and C. 6A is the best and C is the most ordinary type.
Asked by Mr.philipsridhar from INDIA | Dec. 24, 2010 04:12Reply
Iam interested in silkworm rearing chinese method if any one can help i will be happy
Answers (1)
Answered by Mr.Wesley | Dec. 24, 2010 21:14

You may go to Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan to learn it personally, since theory is always different from practice.
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